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Category: Writing

What Do YA Writers Owe Their Readers?

What Do YA Writers Owe Their Readers?

Occasionally, I hear someone suggest that a YA book should embody a good message for teens. That feels wrong to me, but it’s hard to articulate why. No Sending a Message! First, I don’t believe a good novel of any kind sets out to “send a message” in a bald way, and if a book does, it probably cripples the writing. I do believe that a story embodies the writer’s world view and that inevitably includes pretty much everything: politics,…

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Yikes! I don’t have enough words!

Yikes! I don’t have enough words!

Every writer is going to be different, but I tend to write first drafts that are very bare bones. I find a first draft painful to write so I try to get it down quickly, planning to revise. As a consequence, my first drafts are often short of the 60,000 words that are usually the minimum for a young adult novel. I know that some of that brevity is due to things I have to work in later. One is…

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The Best Advice I Ever Got

The Best Advice I Ever Got

Back when I was writing academic books and articles, I conducted a five-year ethnographic project at an engineering center. My area is professional communication, so I hung around the center watching engineers try to communicate in their natural habitat. It was a lot of fun, and eventually I wrote a book (Writing Power) based on the material I collected. Someone I knew edited a series for SUNY Press, and he invited me to submit it to them. He sent the…

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On Writer Anxiety

On Writer Anxiety

Every writer I know experiences moments of anxiety about their writing. They’re sure it’s terrible. They’re horrified at the idea of anyone else seeing it. They know they’re a failure and no agent/publisher/reader will ever want to read this story. Sometimes people call this the Imposter Syndrome. We conclude we’re faking our roles as writers and someone is soon going to find out. If the anxiety becomes strong enough, it turns into writer’s block, and the person can’t write at…

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2018: A Heck of a Stressful Year

2018: A Heck of a Stressful Year

In my previous post, I talked about keeping a writing journal. I often record personal events there because they affect how much writing I’m able to do. Looking back, I don’t want to blame a month with no writing on writer’s block when I was on vacation. Or more realistically in 2018, experiencing some stressful event. This year, I drafted and did the first revision round on a 65K word novel, the third in a series that starts with The…

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On keeping a writing journal

On keeping a writing journal

I keep a notebook as a sort of journal for every book I write. This is apart from the writing I do to lay out the plot basics. The picture above is a sample of them. The fancy leather bound one was a gift. The small one is what I carry in my purse. My husband picked up the one with the pen attached at a business conference he went to. If I buy the notebook myself, I get the…

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What makes a book rereadable?

What makes a book rereadable?

There are books I read only once and books I reread, often more than once. This post looks at some of my rereads to see if they have anything in common. As a writer, one thing I’d like to know is if what leads me to reread a book is the same for other readers. So I pulled three books off my shelf, almost at random. These days, if I have a book in physical form, it’s because I want…

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Writing religion in secondary worlds

Writing religion in secondary worlds

When a fantasy or science fiction writer creates an alternative world, one issue they face is how to show that world’s religion. Religion as part of world building Partly details about religion are a matter of world building. Cultures have religions, and writers can use them to make the world feel real. For instance, a temple or church building of some sort is probably part of the cityscape. In my middle-grade fantasy, Finders Keepers, a ruined temple lies at the…

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